Russia on Thursday floated out a new nuclear-powered icebreaker, said to be the world's biggest and most powerful, to be used for hauling liquefied natural gas from its Arctic terminal.
Arktika, ordered by Russia's Rosatom state nuclear agency, was built at the Baltic Shipyard in Saint Petersburg, and will be ready to use by the end of next year.
"There are no icebreakers like it in the world," said Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko at the ceremony, according to a company statement. "The Arktika icebreaker presents truly new opportunities for our country."
Arktika is the first vessel in a project aimed at allowing year-round navigation in the Northern Passage, and in particular ship Russian energy products from the Arctic to Asia.
Kiriyenko said that contracts have already been signed for the Arktika to accompany shipments from the Yamal liquefied natural gas terminal that Russia is developing on the Yamal peninsula together with France's Total and China National Petroleum Corporation.
"In 2018 we have to ensure exports of liquefied natural gas from Yamal" Kiriyenko said. "There are already contracts for shipping 18 billion tonnes of liquified natural gas."
The Arktika is the "biggest and most powerful nuclear icebreaker in the world," Rosatom said. It can cut through ice of up to 2.8 metres (nine feet) thick.